Why Oklahoma-Baylor is the Big 12's game of the year

A conference that once was ruled by OU and Texas now is egalitarian. Five years, five champions. Texas 2009, OU 2010, OSU 2011, Kansas State 2012, Baylor 2013.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 21, 2014
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“We’re living with what we weren’t three years ago,” Briles said, “where everybody targets us, instead of us targeting other people. Now we’re a marked man. It makes us have to prepare mentally and physically different.”

It’s not that people play harder, the more renown the opponent. It’s what Briles said. That players are jacked up all week. More focused. More attuned, so that their Saturday energy pays off.

“I think every time they certainly give their best effort, their best energy,” Briles said of most teams. “I think the buildup that allows it to showcase as a premier game, the progress of our football program the last two, three years, now the buildup of anticipation is completely different.”

So will OU-Baylor prove to be the game of the year? Who knows? Sometimes I’m on point, sometimes not.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, I had OU-Texas No. 1. Proved right in ’08, but not the next two years. In 2011, Bedlam; turns out it was the title game. In 2012, OU-West Virginia, which proved to be an instant classic but not terribly important. 2013, OSU-Texas; the Longhorns didn’t really hold up their end of the deal.

Anymore, it’s hard to pinpoint. Parity reigns in the Big 12.

“That’s proven out,” Briles said. “That’s not me saying it. That’s fact saying it. Just so many good football players across this section of the United States, particularly in Texas. Everybody’s got good players. They’ve got good support. Everybody’s facilities are pretty much on the same playing field. There’s just so much more parity in 2014 than there was in 2004.”

But the game of the year? The team picked to win the league, the Sooners, against the team that won it in 2013, Baylor, is a good place to start.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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